STAFF were shocked to discover that a pair of beavers actually had two babies this year - rather than one as thought in July.

Forestry England staff searched CCTV and discovered two kits had been born, joining their parents and two older siblings to make a family of six.

The team looking after the beavers are keeping an eye on their movements with CCTV cameras installed around their enclosure.

“I had my suspicions for a while, but beavers can be quite camera-shy,” said Cath Bashforth, Forestry England’s ecologist in Yorkshire.

“You keep wondering would that kit have had time to wander that quickly? And is that the same one?

“We finally realised there were two kits, rather than the suspected one.”

“It’s surprising how independent the kits are at such a young age and it’s wonderful to watch them grow-up.”

Forestry England unveiled plans for a trial reintroduction of beavers into Cropton Forest in October 2018.

Since then, Natural England granted Forestry England a licence to release beavers into the carefully chosen and secure site.

Beavers are nature’s ecosystem engineers, felling trees and building dams, and changing waterways.

Since the pair of adults were introduced to Cropton Forest in April 2019, as part of a five-year trial, the family has constructed a dam of over 6ft high and more than 200ft long.

The dams have been helping to protect areas, including nearby Pickering, from flooding.

The beaver family also appears to have had a positive impact on biodiversity with their activities by slowing the flow of water and attracting more wildlife such as otters, bats and amphibians.

“I never imagined the significant impact on the environment created by the beaver family,” added Cath.

“We are currently monitoring the hydrology to see what extent the beavers are slowing the river flow - it’s too early to say.

“It was a nice shock for everyone, discovering the new addition, but hopefully we see more new arrivals next year.”

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